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Constructing Shoulder pads

I was initially curious about the construction of shoulder pads when I set out to make my first blazer. Even though I have since decided the shoulder pad look isn’t really my aesthetic, I’m still glad I gained the skill. In this post, I’ll give a quick and easy method to draft shoulder pads. 

Constructing the shoulder pads

Now that you’ve decided the size and have the template, all that’s left is to cut it out of fabric and sew it together. First, decide how thick you want it. This should be drafted into the pattern you’re using and will probably have already been decided. However, if you are figuring it out as you go, the higher the shoulder pad, the more dramatic the look; 1/4″ should be fine for a regular woman’s blazer. Here’s a quick and easy way to construct it:

1. Cut out the padding 

Depending on how thick your shoulder pad is and what you are using to pad it, you may need anywhere from 1 to 3 layers of padding. This is cut without seam allowance, as you will want to have the edges somewhat flatter than the center. 

For my shoulder pads, I had some Pellon foam lying around (keep your scraps people!). It was exactly the height I needed (1/4″), so I only used one layer. If I used quilting batting or felt, I may have needed 2 layers, but would have measured it to see what worked.

pellon foam
A scrap of the Pellon foam used for padding

2. Cut out the fabric

One easy way to do this is to trace the template on the fabric you are using, which is typically lining fabric. Then, add seam allowance right on the fabric (1/4” is standard). Cut it out, then use that piece to cut the other piece. Once you have all three layers, sandwich them together; hand-baste or pin them, making sure everything is flat.

shoulder pad
Padding sandwiched between 2 fabric pieces

3. Finish the edge

From the tutorials I have seen around the internet, this part is typically the most complicated. However, I have seen shoulder pads with a simple, serged edge,which I figured would be fine for me. Plus, it will be completely incased in the garment; if someone wants to judge the look of the shoulder pad, they’ll have to take the whole thing apart!

Serge around the perimeter of the shoulder pad, just next to the padding but not over it. (If you don’t have a serger, use a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine.) Trim your threads, and your shoulder pad is complete. To give it a nice curve, press it over a ham with steam. It is then ready to insert into your garment.

shoulder pads
Finished shoulder pads


This is the quickest and easiest way to make a shoulder pad that I have seen, and the way I will do it if I ever need to make a shoulder pad again. Don’t forget to make one for each shoulder! If you want more information, Wiki-How and M. Müller & Sohnhave good tutorials. There are so many different variations that I can’t begin to cover, so hopefully this gives you the basics. 

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